Monday, 18 September 2017

A wonder round Thacka, Penrith, Cumbria.

 A good portion of the Thacka area is bordered to the East by the main London to Glasgow railway and to the West by the ever noisy M6 motorway. This group of stunted trees stands about 30 feet from the railway track. And some are Elderberry, which at the moment are laden with fruit and attracting quite a variety of birds. The two just visible above are Gold Finches.

A slightly closer view of one of the Goldfinches
A Green finch.
Also flitting about but not behaving for the camera was House Sparrows, Reed Bunting, and Blue and Great Tits. Which considering its close proximity to the railway is quite amazing.

At first this bird was silhouetted by the sun and for a short moment I thought it was a woodpecker, but-------


It turned out to be a juvenile Starling.
Morning dear just llllllooooovvvve the earrings


And there is always a few Corvids to be found in the grazing fields.





Wednesday, 6 September 2017

On my way back home.

As I made my way back home, it was still good to enjoy the walk and also the smells. We are gradually getting into Autumn and already there is that familiar smell of decaying bracken and leaves, and added to those in the area I was in was the smell of cattle and sheep. Its always pleasant to smell sheep when climbing the Fells and the Mountains, it all goes with the pleasant  experience and gets filed away in the happy memory folder of the mined.


The sun was still shinning , but in the far distance there was a cap of cloud on Cross Fell the highest of the Pennine chain. climbed a couple of years back with my Daughter.

Still plenty of Black-headed gulls around, but as far as I could tell no Mediterranean gulls with them, as sometimes the latter will associate with the first.



Some Swallows have already been seen in parts of the country heading South, but this little fella and his nest buddies although flying , are still being fed by their parents, so wont be heading South just yet. Also in resent years Swallows have been tending to linger much later into the year, could have something to do with the climate change, as we have milder Septembers and Octobers, so still plenty of insects about.



Now it is said (mainly by farmers) that farmers are the guardians of the countryside, not entirely true, as a vast amount of wild life has been lost because of modern farming practises. As regards certain species of bird we have lost as much as 70 to 80 present.

This is one of my pet hates, hedge on the left great full of wild life plenty of cover for birds insects and mammals, hedge on the right been totally mutilated by the local farmer , why do they have to do it ? the hedge on the right has been cut at that height for so long, it has made it very compact, giving wild life little chance to penetrate.

Yet another mutilated hedge.


And yet the amount of wild life to be found right by a busy motorway junction is amazing, above is the very common Oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)

Oxeyed daisy
And this growing at the side of the motorway slip road, Snowberry (Symphoricarpus)
Give wild life a chance and it will flurish anywhere

And so nearly home, only two more pedestrian crossing to negotiate !!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

A walk to the River Eamont, Cumbria.

Mid week I decided to have a walk to the river Eamont , the stretch of the river I decided to have a look at lies due South of Penrith. There is a downside to walking to this stretch of the river, and that is escaping the town to get to the footpath that takes you to it.The reason being there is a grand total of  7 traffic light pedestrian crossings, ,8 if I took another route. Most of these are on the very busy junction 40 of the M6 motorway, and the equally busy A66, talk about your life in their hands. and of course all this has to be done in reverse on the way home.
     After having safely negotiated the A66 to get to the South side of it, a short walk brings you to a little wrought iron gate in a fence(blink and you would miss it) I had no sooner set off on the footpath when a Partridge struck up from the edge of the field to my right, its flight was too sudden and too fast for a positive id, but as it was a single bird I judged it to be a Red-legged Partridge rather than Grey Partridge as Greys tend to move around in parties rather than singly.

After about 50 yards of overgrown path we are confronted by this double narrow and a bit spooky tunnels, they carry the two railway lines North and South London to Glasgow. They are very well constructed and it leaves one wondering why such great engineering has been undertaken just for a footpath, as they are too narrow for a vehicle of any kind. The only other thing that comes to mind is , in the past it may have been through way for Sheep and cattle, to get from one grazing area to another, or one farm to another.
 

This first stretch of the path is also in shade for most of the day, the above plant is a shade loving plant so I wasn't surprised when I found it . The flower of Lords-and-Ladies (Arum haculatum)
     After the tunnels we are out in the sunshine and apart from wet feet (not having anticipated the heavy dew) its a grand morning.

First encounter (if we don't count the Partridge) was this rather smart juvenile Woodpigeon, hasn't got his white collar yet.





From now on the footpath follows more or less a straight line through grazing/pasture land with the occasional stile to negotiate, or gate to open , making sure it is secure again to prevent escaping sheep or cattle.


Morning girls, don't be so nosey , just passing through, will coming back shortly.


As can be seen the sheep where sharing the field with quite a few gulls mainly Black-headed gulls , with one or two Lesser Black-backed

Sheep are vegetarian otherwise , open wide.
"No one lives here anymore"
A pair of Jackdaws warming their feet, had it been Springtime they would have been plucking the wool to line their nests

The river Eamont , looking West or up stream.

And looking East, down stream
Unfortunately from my point of view the river was running high and fast, so not much chance of seeing any wild life. There are footpaths alongside the river, but that would entail a much longer walk to get me back home.

Purple-loosestrife  (Lythrum salicaria) still putting up a good show by the river.

On the way back I saw movement in the hedge, and as is very often the case the birds can be seen flitting about deep in cover, however after a bit of quiet standing around waiting a bird came to the outer branches.


First of all just the back view.


Then it obliged with a partial front view, now Willow warblers and Chiff Chaff are very hard to tell apart, and the bird was quiet, so just on leg colouration and darkish cap I'm going with Chiff Chaff, what do you think Phil?
    So as regards bird life that was about it, an enjoyable walk, and a few more picies to come from that walk.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Solway Firth, the Cumbria side.

Over the Bank Holiday weekend my Daughter and I decided to have  a ride up to the Solway. Sunday dawned sunny and warm, so after a slow start to the day we finally set off, heading up the M6 turning off at Carlisle then making our way to the estuary road starting at Burgh by Sands and continuing along the road all the way to RSPB Campfield marsh. In  the photo below, looking across the Solway the hills of Dumfries & Galloway Southern Scotland. can be seen through a drizzly haze.


We were on the wrong side of the tide, it being well out, which meant virtually all the waders etc where well out on the massive expanse of sand, and even the big lens couldn't bring them close.


With the bins there was a good variety of birds, in one area quite a raft of Golden Plover , also one or two Lapwing, Curlew where dotted around and mixed in with the other waders.



A small flock of Oystercatchers where on the wing,  and the was a  good amount  of gulls , which consisted mainly of Black-headed Gulls and Lesser Black-backed.

Alone Cormorant drying its wings

The only waders the lens could pull in was a few Redshanks.

The weather started to change as we pulled into North Plain farm where the RSPB have a small visitor centre and is right next to the marsh. Alas there was very little to be seen, a couple of days back there had been 26 Little Egrets, another move North for this species, and with so many about , they must be roosting close by. Close to the centre a field had been planted with various types of seed, and one or two linnets and Gold finches were seen flitting in and out, but to fast for the lens.
   By 2pm the weather has turned nasty so it was decided we should head home.


Friday, 25 August 2017

Looks like a good harvest in Cumbria.

Walking round the reserve and Thacka there wasn't a great deal in the way of wildlife, the usual ducks and gulls on the large pond, and the odd Moorhen trying to keep a low profile rather than swim in open water and become lunch for the gulls.

A couple of wood pigeons feeding in one of the horse paddocks.
A distant Stock dove, the first I have seen for a while.

Also a single Black-headed gull , again in one of the horse paddocks.
Quite a bit of colour in the area in the way of berries, with good crops of Mountain ash or Rowan both names can apply the botanical name is Sorbus, and also Hawthorn (Crataegus) so there shouldn't be any shortage of food for the birds this coming Autumn/winter.

Rowan or Mountain ash.
Hawthorn

There is a surfaced bridal way that borders the North East corner of the reserve , and can be followed all the way to Newton Rigg collage and passes under the M6 motorway. For most part it is bordered by horse paddocks,and at one point there is a gravelled drive leads off to some horse stables. Part way along this drive I could see a tree loaded with fruit, on closer inspection they turned out to be Plums, and again a very good crop, how they came to be planted where they are is a mystery.

 Yum Yum, I think I'll be back.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

The reserve and Thacka, Penrith, Cumbria.

Sun cracking the flags again this morning , and very warm, ideal butterfly weather if not birds. However it turned out not to be much good on both fronts, as regards birds , I missed the best photo opportunity when amazingly a Buzzard flew over and I only had my small lens on the camera, and I say  amazingly, because if we see a Buzzard in this part of Cunbria these days it is amazing, simply because they are being shot or poisoned out of existence, all in the name of protecting the shooting estates.


On the butterfly front the best that could be found was these Small  Tortoiseshell there was a few Large Whites on the wing but nothing else, in spite of the weather conditions being very good for them. I've heard other people comment on the lack of sightings too, something seems to be going wrong, maybe the weather was too wet earlier in the year.

Small Tortoiseshell (Anglais urticae)

I photographed the butterflies on the top track close to the reserve and at the end of the track there is a manure dump from the local stables, on top of which I found some --------- ----------------------------

They where enjoying the sun and didn't seem to mind the smell.


A couple of the horses that create the manure.